Foreign Adoptions: The Red Tape Simplified

Adding a precious bundle of joy to your family? Your suitability as a parent will be carefully evaluated regardless of the location of the child, and every country has its own standards for judging parental fitness. Most adoption agencies, however, share some common requirements; namely, that the parents be prepared to provide the child with a stable, loving, and healthy home. If your new family member hails from outside of the U.S. you may be in for slightly more paperwork than is required here. Read on to learn more about what you will need to bring your child back into the U.S.

Immigration Visas

It pays to plan ahead and know in advance what type of Visa your child will need to enter the U.S. There are different forms depending on the type of country where your child was born: either Hague Convention or non-Hague Convention. In some situations you will complete the adoption proceedings while still "in-country" and sometimes you may need to take care of that at home in the U.S.

If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country

  • You must have an IH-3 Visa if the adoption is complete before entering the U.S.
  • You must have an IH-4 Visa if the adoptions is to be completed once in the U.S.

If you are adopting from a non-Hague Convention country.

  • You must have an IR-3 Visa when adoption has been completed in the child's birth country.
  • You must have an IR-4 Visa when adoption is to be completed in the U.S.

Adoptions that are completed outside of the U.S. provide your child with automatic citizenship upon entering the U.S. You will receive an official citizenship document within a few weeks, which you can use to apply for a birth certificate.

The IH-4 and IR-4 Visas require that you compete the process in U.S. court. You must apply separately for a Certificate of Citizenship, which will then be used to apply for a birth certificate.

Order of Adoption

Even if your child's adoption was completed while still in their birth country, you may want to consider making the adoption formal by going through the U.S. courts to re-adopt the child. Not all states recognize adoptions that were carried out by foreign countries as being legal.

Don't allow paperwork confusion to dampen your enthusiasm for your new family member. Contact a family law attorney as soon as you know your child is coming from outside the U.S. and get ready to welcome someone special to your home and your country.